Hooray! We did it! Our first week of school was a success. We started “on-time” (on the date I wanted to), the girls retained more than I thought that they would, and we had a relaxed first week back.
It was such a different school start than last year. Last year, I was a tangled ball of emotions- excited, eager, joyful, anxious, a little fearful. Through experience and prayer, I was able to untangle the ball of emotions by releasing anxiety and worries and replacing them with confidence and peace. With two years of homeschool experience behind me, I feel more confident about what our school day is going to look like, what needs to get done, and how to fit everything in to make homeschooling and other commitments work for our family. I think a few other factors contributed to our successful first week.
For the first week of school, I kept an open schedule. There were no scheduled playdates, visitors, or appointments and I worked hard to keep interruptions at a minimum. I kept my cell phone far away from me, upstairs in my bedroom, so that I would not be tempted to look at texts and social media. I did not respond to any emails during school time. I was not distracted and my attention was not divided between so many other things. Yes, this may seem like common sense but last year this was a real struggle for me. I have had to work hard to prioritize, simplify, and get better at time management.
Easing into our school year was a good thing. I had expectations and things that I wanted to get accomplished but I also had the mindset that if something did not get done it would be okay. I did not focus on getting through all the subjects on the first day. The first day we did a little, the next day a little more, the third day even more than the second, and yesterday, we made it through all the subjects. It was less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone.
Since we are finishing Sonlight Core A before moving to Core B, the format and procedures of the lessons are the same as last year. The girls are already familiar with the routines and materials the program includes. Last year, I spent great deal of time establishing good routines and the time paid off. Getting back to the swing of things was much easier than I thought. The girls seemed to pick up right where they left off. A lot less explaining had to happen and that meant more time to get other things accomplished.
One more thing (and the most important one) contributed to the success of our first week of school and that was prayer! Over the summer, I had been preparing for the school year in prayer. Others have been praying for us. And we have been praying as a family. Each morning, after our morning work journals, the kids and I take the time to sit in a circle and talk about who we should pray for and what we should pray about. I love this time as it is a window into their little hearts. They are so compassionate and kind and often pick up on things that I would not have noticed unless pointed out. Even though it is for only a short time, it is one of my favorite and most important parts of our school day. It is so important to keep our eyes on God and our hearts centered on Him. Everything else will flow out of this and He will provide everything that we need as we lean into Him. This year, we trust that He will give each of us what we need to make this school year one of the best ones yet.
A few first week highlights:
1.) First Day of School Time Capsules- We plan to open them on the last day of school!
2.) Family Journal– As suggested in our writing program, we are keeping a family journal and adding an entry each school day. (Today is my grandmother’s birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GAMMY!) This will be a great experience for us and I am really excited about doing this with the girls.
3.) Keeping your two-year old entertained during homeschool- No problem! (haha…just kidding) Love Crayola Color Wonder Fingerpaint! It is fairly expensive BUT pretty awesome. The girls (myself included) wanted to use it too. Lots of sensory boxes and the return of the coconut playdough helped keep him busy.
4.) SCIENCE- We tasted food for sourness and used red cabbage juice to test for acids. The tasting provided a lot of laughs and the testing was very interesting. Later, we added baking soda (a base) to the cabbage juice and watched the mixtures turn to blue and green.